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Chrysler Repair/89 5th ave. electrical shutdown


QUESTION: my 5th ave is losing all power as if battery cables are off... no headlights or power of any thinkin short, because silly things, such as slamming door or wiggleing wires to door lock module has fixed it temporarily....when I kill the car, my door lights will be half as brite as should be then I know it will not crank.... if they are brite, it will crank every time....  please help, at the end of my rope    thanks   have pulled stering wheel... no short??

ANSWER: Hi Carl,
I wonder why you pulled the steering wheel?
I would begin at the battery and if you have a voltmeter see what it shows.
Otherwise, remove the clamp on the - post of the battery and then inspect the connection of the cables to the clamp, and then follow the cables on that clamp to their other ends and check to be sure that those are firmly attached. Then do the same with the + post clamp and its cables inspecting and  tracing them to their far end points. Then put the + post clamp back on the battery. Then put the - post clamp back on the battery. Then see whether the problem is still present and what you can tell me more about it. Do you have a voltmeter or at least a 12v neon glow light?
Please read the PS below.

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QUESTION: already checked battery post and all wiring from battery.. everything checks out... had meters on it.....  pulled stering column looking for shortbecause previous owner said he thought short was caused by tilting wheel... didn't find it... have good mechanic lookin for it but could be anywhere...   does fusebox have ground that could shut down power or do you have a better idea at what could cause it.... sometimes when I lift door handle... the doorlock module chatters and door lites are half as brite as should be????   will not crank unless door lites are brite  when I get home and kill it..and open door I can tell if its gonna crank by door lites being brite if go   please help

ANSWER: Hi Carl,
The '89 5th Ave. was the last year of the rear wheel drive vehicles. I have not built up a set of manuals for those vehicles. I have the '83 manual and that nonetheless may be applicable to your '89. Does your fuse box have 16 fuses in a 4 x 4 array?
What you may have to do is pull the fuses, one at a time, and measure the resistance of the cold side of each fuse to ground to figure out which circuit is shorting current to ground without doing so much as to blow the fuse. Similarly, check the current draw if you have an ammeter that is flowing back to the battery on the - post wire. It should be at most 0.1 amp.
As you are a recent owner, the 'tip' from the former owner may be important as it might implicate any of the circuits located on the column. Tell me what items electrical that are mounted on the column and then we can check the individual circuits on those.
There is no 'ground' on the '83 fuse box that could shut down power.
There are a large number of 'fusible links' connected to the + post of the battery that are basically wire-type fuses those can carry a large amount of current before they blow. So if you have an ammeter it will be useful to know what the ignition off current draw is through the battery to start this search. Open the - post clamp and insert the ammeter between it and the - post.

PS: Thanks for the rating and nomination.
I have an idea about where to look for the short. You say you can tell ahead of time by how the lights appear when you turn off the vehicle. This suggests to me that the action which is involved in the problem is the ignition switch, turning it to the off position. The ignition switch (and the charging circuit) are the only parts of the car that are powered only by fusible links which can handle a good deal of current before they blow. So what I conjecture is that there is a shorting to ground that wrongly happens inside the ignition switch which in fact does have one of its four 'sections' whose purpose is to ground some devices when the switch is in the start position. If there were a failure inside the ignition switch which instead grounded one of the other three sections as well then that would be a pathway that drags down the voltage on the system and prevents starting. The main power wires to the switch in the '83 diagrams are red and natural/red stripe, and the ground wire is gray black. So take a look at those wires at the switch for possible shorting. Then see if the gray/black pin of the switch is connected to any other pin of the switch when in the off position of the switch.
You may simply want to get a used switch from a rear wheel drive model of the 80's at a wrecking yard.
I hope this theory bears fruit for you.
If you would like to go back to my first answer and rate/nominate me on that one I would be most appreciative.


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QUESTION: hey roland, first off let me send you a texas size THANK YA for your help...  I need to know if theres a trick to pulling ignition switch or do ya have to go into column to get it out..... my mechanic said for instance, on a ford theres a position you can put switch in and it will come but hes not clear on a 5th ave.... whats the proper way???

Hi Carl,
Based upon the '83 manual for the tilt column it is about step #20 in the disassembly that you get to the ignition switch. So to have all the steps and illustrations the best would be for me to copy and postal mail you the pages. But going to the switch may be premature.
Thinking further I would believe that rather than going for the switch immediately it would make sense to do some circuit tracing with a volt-ohmmeter to verify that the ignition switch is the cause of the problem. The '83 manual for the Fury, New Yorker, Diplomat shows that the three wires that bring power to the steering column ignition switch from the engine compartment pass through a large multi-wire disconnect in the firewall (or bulkhead) and so at that point is where you could individually check whether there is a short to ground on any of them by unplugging the plug on the cabin side of the bulkhead and then measuring the resistance to ground of each wire when the lights are dimmed down and the ignition switch is 'off'.
The red wire is shown to be on pin 24, the pink trace wire on pin 38, and the yellow wire to the starter relay on pin 33. So take a look and see if those are the wire colors at that bulkhead so we'll know if the '83 diagrams apply to your '89. If so, measure their resistances to ground.
If none of those wires show a low resistance to ground, then we'll have to go to the splices in the engine compartment where all the fusible links are connected, though I would prefer not to open those splices to separate the circuits. Probably better next would be to check the other circuits that have fuses to see if one of them is 'on' when it shouldn't be.
Also, do check the current flowing through the battery when the lights are dim as described in my earlier answer so we get a verification that there is 'short' or something else that is drawing a lot of current when it shouldn't be.
You are very welcome and thanks for the rating/nomination.

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Roland Finston


Get a Free Fast answer to your repair question about a Chrysler/Dodge/Plymouth car, minivan, SUV, or truck. Problems with electronically controlled engines and transmissions as well as body wiring problems are my specialty. This free troubleshoot advice forum helps you diagnose faults, minimize repair costs or do-it-yourself.

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